I might be slipping.
You’ll probably recall how I’ve generally been militant about Christmas preparations not starting until after Thanksgiving. That meant no trees up, no holiday music, no exterior decorations, and profound head shaking each time I saw a Christmas commercial before we’ve carved the first turkey of the season. This year, though, I’ve been looking forward to the Christmas season since September.
In early October I found myself spending far too much time examining the holiday lighting section at Lowe’s. I would occasionally start humming holiday classics unprovoked. Instead of looking forward to Halloween and Thanksgiving, I was thinking ahead to the days after Turkey Day, when we could put the tree up and transform the house for five weeks. Each Monday this month, on the way to school, I’ve scanned through the FM band looking for a station playing Christmas music. Not because I wanted to listen to it yet, of course. Just so the girls could hear it and know that Christmas was getting closer. I even recorded a couple holiday shows over the weekend, even though each of them will be on several times over the next month.
Why this change? I’m not sure I have an easy, obvious explanation.
I would imagine some of it is because the window for tiny tots Christmases is closing in our house. If last year was the perfect year, with L. old enough to understand what’s going on and M. young enough to still dive in with full belief, that balance is slipping a little. With M.’s personality, I see her as someone who is going to hang on a long time, even after she’s figured it out. But each year, makes it more likely she’ll give us a knowing look when we talk about Santa to her sisters. Or, as she gets moodier1 an outburst could involve her shouting that Santa isn’t real when we remind her that her behavior is being watched.
This has been an odd year for me, which I think explains some of it, too. This was the year L. became self sufficient in 90% of matters. On days she’s not in school, I can just turn her loose and she entertains and occupies herself. The days of me having to monitor her activities 24/7 are over. And I will admit, like generations of full-time parents before me, it’s been an unsettling shift. You operate in one mode for seven years, your kids grow up, and you feel a bit unmoored. I know that 2013 is going to be a year where I have to not just think about the future but begin taking steps to set up what I’ll be doing for the next 10 years. Which freaks me out a little.
I think that combination of changes has me looking forward to this holiday season a little more. It’s something concrete, something with set routines, something that ties to the past. Good grief, I’m becoming a 50-something housewife, aren’t I?
So anyway, I’m going to try to dive in and really enjoy the next 48 hours of Thanksgiving, and push the Christmas thoughts off until Friday, when the decorating-holiday tunes-making merry orgy will begin. We’re hosting a small, for our family, group of 16 Thursday. I’m responsible for the bird and am giving a new stuffing recipe a spin.2 It looks like we’re going to have terrific weather, too, so perhaps there will be time to toss the football with my stepdad or nephews at some point.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who read this. May your travels be safe, your bellies be full, and your family reunions follow the rule I established when we began hosting big get togethers a few years back: no crying and no F-you’s!